OK, this is tough. I was in high school when I purchased my first Dinosaur Jr. album. Friends and I would spend late nights on weekends listening and absorbing equal amounts of Dinosaur Jr. and lukewarm beer. Ahhh, the memories. Yes, it's cheesy. But here's the thing: All of these years later, Dinosaur Jr. has released a record that sounds like, well ... them. It is rare that a band can keep up with and maintain their "sound." Dinosaur Jr. has achieved this, but in writing this review, I have run into a problem: How does one describe something they thought they would never witness? A reunion band that doesn't destroy their influential/legendary status the moment they take the stage or record some new material (Stooges, Pixies, etc.? Don't get me wrong—I have a deep soft spot for these bands, but come on, really.)?
It seems, for the most part, that when great bands break up they should remain so. The first album for Dinosaur Jr. in many years, Beyond is, at least, a shining exception to the rule of the post-alt drivel being spewed by some of their aging contemporaries. At best, this album is a true gift for the lifelong fan (like myself). I have hesitated for nearly three months to write about Beyond because I was afraid to listen to it. I could not bear to hear one of the best bands I've ever heard dying on metallic tape, and I've lost my appetite for warm beer. Thankfully they spared me—and everyone else—by crafting a record that is decidedly true to Dinosaur Jr. form. It is energetic without being falsely youthful. Beyond fits into their discography neatly and comfortably, like it was meant to be there. This is not to say that the album lacks complexity and is easy; rather, the tracks on Beyond require full attention. This is not a single-based record, and is better listened to in its entirety many times over. I mean, would you only drink half a beer?